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Instant Replay -- MLB Should Follow Little League World Series Example: Fan Opinion

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In 2013, Major League Baseball is set to begin expansion of instant replay use. The new rule allows umpires to view replays to determine if 1) the fielders catch or trap fly balls and line drives, 2) the ball lands fair or foul when right near the lines, and 3) fans interference with a fielder's chance at making a play whether fair or foul -- all in addition to its current use. What happens, though, in other situations such as during the second day of the 2012 Little League World Series tournament?

The challenge

In the fourth inning of the game between Parsippany, New Jersey, and San Antonio, Texas, young Zach Sanchez of Texas grounded to the shortstop. The shortstop stepped on second to get the force out, but he could not complete the double play. Texas then had runners at first and third with two outs. This was a crucial point because Texas was ahead by only two runs. Texas challenged the ruling, claiming that the runner had beaten the play at second. If Texas had won the challenge, they would have had the bases loaded with only one out. Umpires reviewed the play and confirmed the call on the field.

The rule

Microphones picked up the home plate umpire's statment that Texas had one challenge remaining. ESPN announcer Karl Ravech, who announced the play-by-play, then explained the rule about instant replay during the Little League World Series. Ravech explained that the rule allows each team to challenge nearly any call. After two failed challenges, the team loses the privilege for the rest of the game.

A great idea

The system seemed to work very well and fairly quickly for the Little League game. When MLB announced its replay expansion back in March, I accepted it despite my personal preference. I offered suggestions about having failed challenges cost the defensive team a trip to the mound or the offensive team an out. I did not really like that "out" idea, but I could not think of another one at the time. When I saw the Little League challenge, I had my answer. The Little League World Series handles instant replay very well.

MLB should use the rule.

Major League Baseball should use the two-challenge rule. It would give each manager two opportunities to request a challenge at their choosing without limiting the types of plays subject to possible review. It would also make sure that the managers used those challenges wisely, especially early in the game, for fear of losing them late in a close game.

This is a good system. It solves the dilemma of which plays umpires should review. I still personally do not like using instant replay, but if it gets the close and crucial calls correct, then I give in. However, if MLB wants to use it, then it should use the the two-challenge rule. It is the best method I have seen so far.

Sources:

ESPN Broadcast, Little League World Series, New Jersey vs. Texas, August 17, 2012.

SI.com, AP Newsbreak, No Expanded Replay in MLB This Year, sportsillustraded.cnn.com, March 13, 2012.

Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau

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